There is no doubt that Jennifer Lawrence is one of the top actresses in Hollywood, while David O. Russell is an extremely talented director & writer.
However, Joy is not Russell’s best film, even with a winning a performance from Lawrence. The film lacks a consistent tone, trying to be too many things at once. Plus, the narrative from Joy’s grandmother is not as effective as Russell wanted it to be.
Joy (Lawrence) has two kids, a mortgage & her mother Terry (played by Virginia Madsen), grandmother Mimi (played by Diane Ladd), father Rudy (played by Robert De Niro) & ex-husband Tony (played by Édgar Ramírez) are all living in her house. Ever since she was a little girl, Joy has been good at making things, but she is stuck trying to take care of everyone else, while working for an airline. Even her mother sits at home all day and watches soap operas (giving Susan Lucci a chance to play a soap opera star again) .
One day, Joy gets the idea to create the Miracle Mop. She believes it’s going to change her family’s entire life, but she needs her father and his girlfriend, Trudy (played by Isabella Rossellini), to invest in her business venture. The two of them decide to do so, but it starts off very rocky. No one wants to put Joy’s mop in their stores. So Tony comes up with the idea to bring her mop to QVC, where Joy meets with Neil Walker (played by Bradley Cooper). Walker gives Joy the chance to make 50,000 mops in a week for one of their hosts to sell, but the whole thing turns out badly.
Determined, Joy doesn’t give up and ends up walking into QVC on her own to sell her product all by herself. That’s when the product really starts to take off, making Joy a very happy woman. However, more hiccups come up that could threaten Joy’s success and make her even more in debit than she already is.
Jennifer Lawrence is the real star of the film, giving another Oscar worthy performance. She is charming, strong and engaging. She is joined by a solid supporting cast including Robert De Niro as her somewhat angry father, Virginia Madsen as the lazy, soap-opera obsessed mother and Bradley Cooper as her QVC boss. Aside from Cooper, none of these performances really get a good chance to shine. This Lawrence’s movie all around. I give Cooper credit, though, because the chemistry between him and Lawrence is, again, very good. Also, I have to give a shoutout to Melissa Rivers for playing her late mother, Joan Rivers, in a few QVC scenes. Very funny.
As for the screenplay from David O. Russell and Bridesmaids writer Annie Mumolo, it’s not the best. The screenplay struggles on a consistent and fine-tuned tone, trying to be over-the-top quirky at some points, and then switching into serious drama. It’s just not the right type of humor for this film.
The worst is when they kept trying to mix these soap opera scenes turned Joy’s dreams into the story. They were sort of eye-rolling and weird. I could have done without them.
As for the direction, it’s very tight and well done. There is no doubt Russell has an eye for quality in his films, but we’ve seen much better work from him with films like Silver Linings Playbook and The Fighter.
Joy could have been a much better film, especially with the talent involved. A better screenplay would have made the film much better. However, Jennifer Lawrence is the real reason to see this film, as she knocks her performance out of the park. Rated PG-13.